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What is Water Polo?

Water polo combines the speed of swimming with the strength of wrestling and the strategy of soccer and basketball.  Among the oldest Olympic team sports for men and the newest for women, Olympic water polo players are said to be the best-conditioned athletes on the planet. One outfield player can cover up to two miles in one game alone!

One of the most energetic, fast-paced, and exciting sports played today is water polo. The winner of the game is the team that scores the most goals by getting the ball into the goal at the end of the pool.

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Each team is allowed to have seven players in the water at any one time. Other than the goalkeeper, you will see the other players moving continuously around the pool.

Players are not allowed to touch the bottom of the pool and have to tread water the whole time. Water polo players use a leg movement called ‘egg-beater’ to stay afloat throughout a game.

Players can move the ball by throwing it to a teammate or swimming with the ball in front of them. They can only hold the ball with one hand, except the goalkeeper who can use both hands within their 5-meter area.

Except for the goalkeeper, players move continuously around the pool during a game. Most teams structure their outfield players with one center-back in the middle of the pool about 7-meters away from the goal, one center-forward who is in the middle of the pool 2-meters from the goal, two drivers who are on either side of the center-back, and two wingers who flank the center-forward.

In Water Polo, a goal is scored when the ball completely crosses the goal line between the goalposts and the crossbar.

Game Time

Under FINA rules, a water polo match is divided into four quarters of eight minutes. Depending on the type of game, however, because the clock is stopped when the ball is not in play, the average quarter lasts around 12 minutes.

A team may only have possession of the ball for up to 30 seconds without shooting for a goal. If they haven’t done this then possession passes to the other team

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How physical is water polo?

Water polo is a full-contact sport. This means that players are nearly always in contact with one another. To defend an offensive player, the defender keeps at least one hand on the player at all times. Players jostle each other in the water to get control of the ball. However, the physicality of the game is controlled by the referees. 

Sometimes players will commit a foul in order to stop a player shooting for goal or getting into space. Players will also try and stop other players even if they haven’t got the ball. They may try to grab their opponent’s shoulders, back, or legs. This is also a foul.

A major foul includes sinking a player, swimming on another player’s back, or trying to stop the other player from swimming. If a player commits a major foul three times they must sit out the whole match.

Why water polo?

Water polo is one of the most all-encompassing and challenging sports. You have to have incredible speed, strength, coordination, game sense, and much more all while staying afloat in the water. Just because water polo may resemble other land sports does not take away from its unique value. Water polo is an incredible sport with fast-paced games that combine teamwork, strategy, and constant exercise.